As an avid organizer myself, I completely understand the human need to categorize, calculate, and classify. But as a teacher (ie, a laborer among messy human beings), I also completely understand when “the human need to calculate runs into messy reality.” When we act like everything can be neatly sorted and identified — even the content within our curricula — we do our students a major disservice.
Because the truth is, every field still has its frontiers, its disputed claims, its square-pegs-&-round-holes. Inquiring into this concept can help our students think more deeply and with more nuance as they navigate the sometimes rough seas of human wisdom.
When zoomed in close to the content of our required curricula, an inquiry into music may seem like the least relevant provocation for the typical busy classroom (unless, of course, you’re doing a unit on music). But, as always when it comes to inquiry, when we zoom out and identify the broader, over-arching concepts of our units, we find common ground that will makes our that content more rich, relevant, and memorable.
I am a huge sucker for time-lapse. It’s a mesmerizing phenomenon that by speeding up time, we get to feel like we’re slowing down. This is especially enjoyable when it comes to nature, which is why two of the four resources in this week’s inquiry include time-lapse videos.
The concept connections here include pattern, design, geometry, seasons, etc. Time lapse also lend themselves well to the PYP Transdiciplinary unit of “Where We Are in Place & Time.” But the exciting part about provocations is that we have no idea in which direction this might spark our students’ curiosity.
Where do we find inspiration? Why is that that one moment, ideas seem to sweep us away, and the next, they feel hopelessly out of reach? I’ve shared other provocations on finding wonder and inspiration before, but it’s such an essential flame to keep burning that I’m sharing another!
Color. Seems like one of the more straight-forward aspects of our world, but lately, I’ve come across several resources to make me wonder. And since that’s what these provocation posts are all about — inviting wonder — I thought it would be fitting to dedicate a post to color.
At first glance, you might think an inquiry into color would only have applications in art, but it is much more rooted in the social and physical sciences than I would have guessed! So take a look and see what might inspire your students to dig into the deeper concepts for their next unit!
Resource #1: The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin & Rosana Faria
How do you explain color to someone who can’t see? A fascinating picture book of raised images to represent the different colors!
Resource #2: “Kids Describe Color to a Blind Person” by WatchCut Video
Speaking of color and blindness, check this video out of kid attempting to explain it to a man who is blind!
Resource #3: Colorscope series from CNN
The Kid Should See This has compiled all the videos into one page here.
Resource #4: The World’s Deadliest Colors by TedEd
How does color work in our society?
How have the perspectives on color changed over time?
What are reasons humans care about color?
How has human fascination with color impacted our world over time?
How is color related to perspective?
What is the relationship between color and human health?
This week’s provocation that, at face value, may seem a little more abstract, but that has a wide range of applications. You might be beginning a unit about inventors, or perhaps one on algebra, or maybe even some creative writing. Whatever the case, there is power in beginning a unit in a way that is a little less obvious, and a little more mysterious. The intrigue not only helps to hook our students’ interest, but it provokes deeper questions. This in turn leads them to broader concepts that tend to carry more relevance, meaning, and universality (at least, more than the compartmentalized memorize-and-forget content they might otherwise prioritize).
So with this introduction, I share two resources on thinking outside the box!
We stick so closely to the known facts and conventions all in the name of preparation (whether for testing or for becoming grown-ups in general) that I wonder if we sometimes limit our own capacity to push what might be possible in the future…
Resource #1: How to Unboil an Egg, by Ted Ed
Years ago, to help my students better understand the difference between physical and chemical change, I created a Prezi that included frying eggs as a clear irreversible change because it is a chemical change. But in the video below, the word “yet” simply radiates the pioneering spirit that has brought and continues to bring most scientific advances to the world.
Resource #2: Balderdash!: John Newbery & the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books.
This picture book will take you and your students back to a time when the accepted custom was for children only to read books of rules, study, or religion — until John Newbery changed all that.
What does it mean to be a pioneer?
How does pioneering differ across different subjects (science, history, etc.). How is it the same?
What is our responsibility to ask questions?
Why might some worry about questioning the way things are already done?